Reddit has gone through turmoil these past weeks, from the controversial firing of Victoria Taylor, credited with the growth of Ask Me Anything (AMA’s) in the site and stepping down of Ellen Pao, the previous CEO. Steve Huffman, Reddit’s co-founder has taken over the reins of the company and has come up with a new set of guidelines that will regulate the kind of content that is acceptable to Reddit.
He announced these guidelines in his own AMA that was conducted yesterday. Some of these guidelines are also improved upon current ones. Generally, content that is prohibited on Reddit are illegal content, spamming, content that incites violence against an individual or group of people, content that bullies or harasses an individual or group, content that is a private publication of someone and child porn.
He went on to specifically mention that some content should be noted for the information they have. This classification will require a login to Reddit and will not appear in search results. Some of these content that need explicit classification include adult content should be flagged as NSFW (Not Safe For Work) and other content that is similar to NSFW content which is not decent should also be indicated. The NSFW classification is not new however and from past experiences, it has worked well to “separate the porn from the rest of Reddit” according to Huffman.
These regulations laid out by Steve Huffman come at a time the previous CEO, Ellen Pao, who wrote an opinion post on The Washington Post where she talks about the progression of freedom of expression on the Internet which is now led to “harassment of people for their views, experiences, appearances or demographic backgrounds”. She went on to say it is a challenge for open content platforms on the Internet (for example Reddit) to balance “free expression with privacy & protection of participants”. A key quote in that article is “The trolls are winning” and quoted a research done by Pew where 40% of online users have experienced “bullying, harassment and intimidation”.
The debate about regulating content on social media is an emerging problem which social media sites are grappling with. The problem is anonymity of some users which has tried to solve with its strict naming policy where you are required to register your real name. Since the issue is about how nowadays your account on social media is a part of your online identity versus preventing trolls on these sites, this debate is far from over.